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Does all cultural criticism suffer from a problem of perspective: today’s critic is yesterday’s crusader? Culture is by the people, and when those people get old, there are new people who begin to make their own mark upon that culture. So much criticism can essentially be boiled down to: “things aren’t the same anymore… it used to be like this, but now it is different, and the old way was kind of better.” Of course, I admit that it can cut both ways. I guess the new generation has its own critiques that indict the old ways and imply the inevitable supremacy of the new. It is the same liberal/conservative split that we see throughout society.

Is the critique always the underdog? Or is underdog status relational to the critique’s positioning (being “inside” or “outside” the norm) within society? What about in situations where there is no established mainstream, i.e. critiquing two parallel subcultures of equal following?

Is it conservative to critique religious fundamentalists because they are the “outsider” in todays culture (or are they not the outsiders)? Atheists? Unitarians? Mormons? Westboro Baptists? Is today’s mainstream society so socially liberal that modern social conservatives are actually a progressive insurgency for change?

It also seems to me that there is more criticism of the conservative variety than the liberal, i.e. more old people complaining about young people than vice versa. This could be a reflection of demographics (there are more young people), the liberalization of society, or maybe more so the complacency of today’s liberals with the social order (having nothing to really bitch about, or better things to do than bitch). How much do the bourgeois pleasures of the global neoliberal marketplace placate today’s young radicals? Do the youth of today care more about creation than critique, and if so, is this a phenomena that is unique to our time, constant throughout history, or cyclical?

Self-determinism has been a distinctly American value throughout the county’s history. From the babyboom generation onward, American’s have enjoyed the material wealth and associated privilege required to shape their world and future into whatever they may imagine. If this is a liberal attitude, the ability to create something new and actualize one’s dreams, it would seem that criticism would find little respite within the cadre of artists and visionaries that set the cultural agenda.

Categories: Art, Culture, Philosophy
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